When the Going Gets Tough...
Chiiiiiille...we had a time this month! It's only 28 days into the new year, and I've already experienced loss, unanticipated breakdowns (literal and figurative), and navigated my lowest emotional state in 6 years. And yet, like a Tisha Campbell song, I'm still here!
Right before the holidays, I was notified that my job was being eliminated. I had time to figure some things out, but I ultimately, I would be let go. To my colleagues' surprise, I was good when I received the news. Like, GOOD GOOD. I was giving other impacted people advice, sounding like Miss Positivity. I was telling them to be strong and trust that this was an opportunity for us all to pursue something better, more fulfilling, and new. My thought was, If this is how my time ends at this place where I've been unsatisfied and underutilized, then it just means that I am being pushed in the direction of where I need to go. I still feel that way. So, I was fine while receiving the news, but I was not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that would come after.
Looking back, I see that I experienced all the emotions of being laid-off in reverse. Most people feel their sadness and grief upon receiving the news and then gradually feel better. I, on the other hand, felt great until the reality set in and my emotional high came crashing down. As my termination date neared, my emotions took a negative turn. Things got unpredictably worse when I was officially "eliminated." The job had stopped, but life didn't.
I felt defeated. My sleep schedule, which already operates like a freestyle on good days, got so out of whack that I was basically nocturnal. At first, I leaned into my night owl-ism and worked on my to-do list while the world slept. Create this, research that. But suddenly, I wasn't working anymore. Instead, I was watching TV or scrolling on social media for countless hours until I went to sleep. Then, I slept in waves all day. I felt discarded, thrown away by the company that I'd given so much of my early career to and that I once had so much faith in. The same week that my job officially ended, my car broke down, requiring a major fix the day after I paid a pretty penny for general maintenance. After that, I wasn't even sad or hurt anymore. I was numb. Even when the car was fixed, I didn't want to go anywhere because "I'm unemployed and outside is expensive." That's what I felt, but part of me also worried that something else major would break; something I couldn't afford to deal with right now. My beloved vehicle may purr like a kitten, but she's no spring chicken. So I continued to sit at a standstill.
I knew it was bad when several days passed and I hadn't even bothered to open the blinds. It was like I was operating in a haze. I wasn't applying for jobs, even though I needed to. Hoping to accomplish at least one task each day, I started permitting myself to choose between two...but then I didn't do either of them. The only thing I managed to do was perform my caregiver duties for someone else. Because even when a Black woman is going through hell, we still find a way to show up for others...
"Even though you knew you it was coming, I don’t think you were truly prepared to not have a job. We need to make you a schedule and get you out of the house."
I finally opened up to my best friend, who summarized my situation perfectly. She said, "Even though you knew you it was coming, I don’t think you were truly prepared to not have a job. You're experiencing acute depression, sometimes called situational depression, and you have too much time on your hands. We need to make you a schedule and get you out of the house." Shoutout to friends who hold you up and include themselves in solutions. Since that talk, I've been creating content on TikTok to stay motivated and making conscious efforts to do non-housework away from home. So here I am on Day 3 of pulling myself out of the abyss, sitting at my favorite internet cafe, and writing this post as the man next to me watches telenovelas loudly on his phone. While giving myself plenty of grace and time for flexibility, I'm already feeling much better.
So, let me encourage you. No part of this post was written for sympathy. The real purpose of this post is to tell you that I know I haven't been the only one struggling. If you can relate to anything I've written above, please remember that life's tests create testimonies. Yes, the price of eggs is astronomical, guns still aren't under control, and Black people are still being killed by the police every day (R.I.P. #TyreNichols). These are hard times and it seems that no one is exempt. But guess what? "Just as the around the Earth, the Sun knows she's revolving," we are all going to be okay. Be encouraged and take it from me, when the going gets tough, KEEP GOING. And if you don't want to listen to me, listen to Auntie Jenifer Lewis. It will get better. We got this.